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Archive for November, 2015

Border Patrol Agent Arrested for Allegedly Possessing 110 Pounds of Cocaine

Border PatrolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A 14-year veteran of the U.S. Border Patrol has been arrested in Southern Arizona on allegations that he was in possession of 110 pounds of cocaine that he had planned to drive to Chicago, The Tucson Sentinel reports. 

Agent Juan Pimental, 47, was jailed without bail on a felony charge of possession with intent to distribute cocaine following his Nov. 18 arrest.

Pimental resigned Tuesday after he was stopped by state troopers in a rented vehicle that allegedly had a problematic license plate.

According to the complaint, the former agent allowed police to search his vehicle, where authorities found bundles of cocaine in inside four suitcases.

Lawmakers Demand Guarantees to Prevent Terrorists from Slipping into U.S. As Refugees

Syria mapBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

U.S. officials sought to assure skeptics that refugees settling in the U.S. are properly vetted to ensure terrorists don’t slip through.

MassLive reports that federal officials said the process involves in-person interviews and a myriad of other security checks by Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State.

Lawmakers have expressed concern about how refugees from Syria and Iraq are vetted and want guarantees that “would in essence stop the relocations of refugees,” MassLive wrote.

Concerns have been heightened following the Paris attacks.

Open Letter to DEA Chief: It’s Not Time to Resign – Yet – of Marijuana Remarks

Chuck Rosenberg

Chuck Rosenberg

By David Casarett, M.D.
for Huffington Post

Dear Mr. Rosenberg:

When I heard you say recently that you thought medical marijuana was a “joke,” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. But I knew then what I think you’re beginning to figure out now, which is that saying something like that gets you in a whole heap of trouble.

As I think you’ve realized, those opinions are direct repudiation of the beliefs of all of those people who are using marijuana for medical reasons. (Even the most conservative estimates based on registered users conclude that well over a millionpeople in the U.S. alone are using marijuana medically).

So I’m sorry for what you’ve been through in the past two weeks. Especially those pesky people (about 100,000 of them) who have signed a petition calling for your resignation. That must be bothering you a bit.

But don’t give up. All is not lost, and you could learn to see marijuana differently.

I can say that with confidence because two years ago I thought medical marijuana was a joke too. I figured it offered no real medical benefits, and that it was just a way to get high legally.

My (re)education started in my work as a palliative care physician, when one of my patients asked me whether I thought medical marijuana might help her. The answer I gave her, I’m embarrassed to admit, is pretty much what you told people of United States: Marijuana has no medical benefits. Put simply, I told her that the idea of “medical” marijuana is a joke.

That patient of mine could’ve walked out of my office to look for another, more open-minded doctor. But, luckily for me, she didn’t. Instead she handed me several reprints of randomized controlled trials showing that in fact medical marijuana does offer real medical benefits.

So in that moment I had to admit that my patient knew more than I did about the science of medical marijuana. And I figured if I was that ignorant about marijuana’s benefits, then many of my colleagues probably were too. That’s when I decided to spend two years researching and writing a book about the medical benefits of marijuana.

In the last two years I’ve had to admit that I was wrong. Very wrong. (In much the same way, and for the same reasons, that you’re wrong now.)

To read more click here. 

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Warns Universities to Protect Research from Espionage

Genetic research at the laboratoryBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Universities are the hub of innovative research, and the FBI warns, a target for foreign spies.

The Houston Chronicle reports that the FBI has notified universities to be on the look out espionage.

“Some of the greatest threats to academia in the Houston area are the insider threat, theft of trade secrets and economic espionage,” said Maryjo Thomas, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Houston Division

Thomas delivered the warning to more than 100 academic and technology leaders at the FBI’s Houston headquarters.

“It is an initiative whose time has certainly come,” said Mauro Ferrari, president and CEO of the Houston Methodist Research Institute. “Many people in the world would like to have free access to things developed in the United States.”

Donald Trump’s Call for Spying on U.S. Muslims Recalls Darker Times in FBI

Donald Trump, via Twitter

Donald Trump, via Twitter

By Juan Cole
Truthdig.com

As Donald Trump supporters beat a ‘Black Lives Matter’ protester at his rally in Birmingham, Ala., Trump himself reminded us of the dark days when a paranoid J. Edgar Hoover had the FBI monitor the Rev. Martin Luther King and black Churches of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Trump said in Birmingham, “I want surveillance of certain mosques . . . We’ve had it before, we’ll have it again. … We have a situation where ISIS has raised its ugly head again and we have to chop off that head like they’re chopping off heads.”  He also said he would send Syrian refugees back to Syria if he were elected.  Many Syrian refugees have fled because they would be killed in their homeland.

The African-American protester was beaten, kicked and pulled down, with 8 or 9 people on top of him, as he was called a “monkey” and the N-word.  You wonder if they were wearing brown shirts. The Trump campaign later said it did not condone the behavior, but we haven’t heard Trump himself publicly denounce it. During the altercation, Trump said from the podium, “Yeah, you can get him out. Yeah, get him out. Get him the hell out of here.”

Trump’s desire to spy on American congregations recalls Cointelpro and other domestic surveillance programs of the 1960s that led to massive abuses and in some ways led to Watergate under Nixon.

To read more click here. 

Son of Illegal Immigrants Became a Border Patrol Official to ‘Humanize’ Experience

border patrol 3By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Oscar Hagelsieb has a unique perspective of life on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border.

A child of illegal immigrants, Hagelsieb became a Border Patrol official, a position that seemingly put him at odds with his father, who crossed the border several times.

Before taking the job, he talked to his father.

“My dad’s my biggest hero and I didn’t want to disappoint him or offend him. He had crossed illegally several times and I didn’t know what his opinion was of border control,” Hagelsieb tells Quartz. “My parents didn’t want better lives for themselves—for them it would have been more convenient for them to stay in Mexico with their home and family—but for their children, for us.”

To Hagelsieb’s surprise, his dad encouraged him to pursue his dreams of protecting the border.

“He said that the border patrol and federal law enforcement needed individuals like me to humanize the experience,”  Hagelsieb said of his father.

Hagelsieb’s unlikely story is featured in a recently released documentary, “Kingdom of Shadows.”

Hagelsieb began working as a border patrol agent in Fabens, Texas in 2000, which meant he had to stop people like his parents, who eventually legalized their immigration status.

Hagelsieb shied away from the debate over U.S. immigration laws.

I have no opinion one way or the other,” he says. “As a federal agent, I uphold the laws that lawmakers pass.”

Los Angeles Times: Border Patrol Needs to Move More Quickly with Body Cameras

Border Patrol

By Editorial Board
Los Angeles Times 

To assure the public of their commitment to transparency and accountability, many law enforcement agencies across the country have embraced body-worn cameras with admirable rapidity. However, the nation’s largest law enforcement agency, the U.S. Border Patrol, is moving so slowly to adopt this new technology that it appears not to be moving at all.

In August, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection working group completed a yearlong feasibility study of body cameras at the request of Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske. The group did an adequate job of outlining the pitfalls of having Border Patrol agents wear cameras (resistance by the officers, privacy concerns and cost, among other things) and the benefits (decreased use-of-force incidents, better record-keeping and improved safety of officers).

No surprises there. Police agencies made similar cost-benefit analyses as they prepared to roll out their programs. And while tricky, none of the policy challenges has proved insurmountable. Meanwhile, studies over the past year have found that when police wear body cameras and record video of interactions with suspects, it really does influence the behavior of officers and suspects alike, and dramatically reduces use-of-force incidents.

This made Kerlikowske’s announcement last week that even more review of body cameras was still necessary all the more suspect. Was this just a stalling tactic by a department not committed to transparency?

To read more click here.  

Other Stories of Interest

Weekend Series on Crime: Afghanistan and the Opium Trade